February 25, 2016
There are several types of duplicate content.
Some business owners add duplicate content to their website intentionally, intending to fix it later, while other businesses have much of the same information on different pages without realizing it. Whether or not you intentionally added duplicate content, it can actually have a very adverse effect on how people view your site. By determining where the repeated information is and changing it, you can significantly increase the value of your site.
A Quick Definition
Duplicate content is typically the same text repeated in several places on your site. However, content doesn’t have to be identical. If it is very similar and offers the same information, you may need to change one of the pages. Also, duplicate content doesn’t just refer to material on your own site – it can be between your site and a completely different one.
Not only do visitors dislike duplicate content, search engines will rank a site lower because of it. Google, in particular, flags sites and they suffer for it in search results.
There are several types of duplicate content:
- Direct plagiarism
- Tags and meta descriptions
- Repeat URLs
Fixing Direct Plagiarism
There are two steps to fixing web content that is a word-for-word copy of another page:
- Enter the URL of your homepage in a free plagiarism checker, like CopyScape or PlagSpotter, and run the tool. It will return results of any website (including your own) that has identical content.
- Change the content on your page so that it is unique between your pages or if you copied it from somewhere else. If you are quoting other pages, you can add the no-follow or no-index tag so that search engines will ignore your page and only count the original. If you were the original writer of the content and think that other sites are using your content without permission, find the contact information for the webmaster of that site and request it be removed. You can also contact the person who hosts the site and ask that it be changed or removed.
Fixing Tags and Meta Descriptions
Duplicate tags and meta descriptions also count as strikes against you when it comes to SEO. If you have the same information on two pages, this is usually where you will find it. Google is your best resource for fixing it.
You can use Google Webmaster Tools to determine whether you have any duplicate content issues on your site. It will return pages that have the same tags and meta descriptions. All you have to do is adjust these parts of the page so they are all different. If the problem is with another site and you are the owner of the original content, follow the recommendations above for dealing with plagiarism.
Fixing Repeat URLs
Like tags and descriptions, having a single page with several URLs is usually a problem created when you make updates to your site over time. You should be able to search for duplicate URLs on your site with ease using a tool like Screaming Frog to search for multiple URLs. On Screaming Frog, select the URL tab, then Duplicate for the lists of links. This will give you results for your page.
This is the trickiest to fix and the one that is the least problematic for SEO. If you change URLs, you will also need to fix all pages that link to the old URL.
Stay tuned for the next blog in this series, Creative Tips on How to Get Around Duplicate Content.
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